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DPChallenge Forums >> General Discussion >> International Women's Day - 8 March 2008
Showing posts 1 - 10 of 10, (reverse)
03/06/2008 08:39:41 AM · #1

Very moving stories. Very inspirational women.
03/06/2008 03:02:54 PM · #2
Wow, not very socially concious or does DPC hate women? ;)
03/06/2008 03:08:07 PM · #3
They're all too busy here. ;)
03/06/2008 03:12:50 PM · #4
Originally posted by eqsite:

They're all too busy here. ;)

Hahahaaa Welcome back to 1947. :P
03/06/2008 03:13:10 PM · #5
I just heard Dr. Shirin Ebadi speak last week. I also got a chance to meet with her in person and she is a truly remarkable and inspiration crusader for justice!
03/07/2008 06:10:49 PM · #6
i felt compelled to bump this as I read in the paper this morning that women worldwide average 16.4% less income than men for the same work.

Women's issues aren't ever really a "hot topic" on dpc, but I figured I'd try anyway.
03/08/2008 02:35:43 PM · #7
I'm glad I found this thread. I just posted up some photos I took and used for a collection of short stories to commemorate Women's Day. Here are excerpts of the first story ...

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/42792/120/655680.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/42792/120/655680.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' In Kuruwita, one of many rural villages in Ratnapura, Sri Lanka’s poorest districts in the southwest, Dammika Pushpa Rohini has prepared a chart from which she presents proudly, showing neat hand-written Sinhala characters to outline the simple bookkeeping of investment, production, output and savings that she manages for her enterprise.

Barely 24, Dammika owns a modest tea leaf enterprise that she undertook by herself at 18. With little prospect of furthering her education and of obtaining decent employment, she turned to the only recourse known to her in order to earn a living and be independent. “I planted all 1,000 tea plants myself and the land is mine,” she declares referring to the quarter of an acre of land surrounding us. Then, she points beyond and adds that she has started building her own house.

At the beginning, Dammika was able to obtain only two kilograms of green tea leaves per month. She saved diligently whenever possible to be able to buy fertilizers but it was never enough. She then joined her village people’s company and was able to obtain a loan of 5,000 LKR (under 50 USD) at two percent interest, which she used for this purpose. She paid off the loan in 10 months and her tea plants now yield about 145 kilograms per month. At 53 LKR for each kilogram, Dammika earns about 7,600 LKR per month (70 USD a month). Thanks to the newly paved road that her fellow villagers organized to build, tea processing companies now send in their lorries more often to collect fresh tea leaves from remote tea planters. Dammika sells her tea leaves and buys fertilizer for her next crop from the lorry each month.

Although the government offers a subsidy for tea growers, she chooses not to apply for them. The truth of the matter is that she is not eligible because she refuses to cut down her coconut and rubber trees which intersperse with her tea crops. She explains simply that this way, she is able to make a little more money by selling her coconuts which fetch an additional side income while the trees provide shade from the hot sun. She does not need the additional government subsidy that is issued only for mono-crop cultivation.

Dammika is a new generation of young women who are beginning to feel emancipated from the vicious cycle of abject poverty and government hand-outs, thanks to an innovative approach baptized as "Gemidiriya". The Sinhala word, meaning “village strength” embodies the belief that in rural communities, if provided with information, decision-making power and resource assistance for self-help initiatives where women play a role, their combined strength and capability will help them rise above helplessness and hopelessness.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/42792/120/655683.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/42792/120/655683.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
03/08/2008 02:42:01 PM · #8
Excerpts from the 2nd story ...

These women, of whom more than 50 percent are self-categorized into the low-income bracket, organize themselves into a pyramid network of self-help financing institution where members are encouraged to save and loans are accorded based on those savings for livelihood improvement projects. They have a self-determination system that defines four categories of households in order to track progress in achieving equality: poorest-of-the-poor (POP), poor, middle-income and high-income, based on the group-defined indicators such as home or land ownership, employment and fixed income status. The status of marginalized widows, orphans and the handicapped are also taken into consideration ...

Among them are Deyawati from the POP category. A casual laborer before, she was earning precarious wages until she became an active member of the VSCO and applied for a small loan. She has since been able to purchase a plastic water tank and a small piece of vegetable plot to grow cabbages and beans. A little woman dwarfed by many in the room, she nonetheless looks up straight and addresses her audience with clarity and quiet confidence ...
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/42792/120/655685.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/42792/120/655685.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
The Wellawela Village Savings and Credit Organization (VSCO) has 80 percent of female participation from three different ethnic groups: Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. They are taking their fate into their own hands and making a stand against poverty and improving the lives of their families and that of their fellow villagers. Two years into adopting the Gemidiriya program, the organization has since saved 1.26 million LKR (12,000 USD) of which 86,000 LKR (800 USD) were generated from interest earned on savings. A modest fortune no doubt, by richer country standards but it belies the wealth of values, enriching principles and the organizational talent that these women embody. For Anuma, Chandra, Deyawati and their friends, what they are doing is a matter of having a dignified and united existence. While they were daughters, mothers, and wives tilling with their husbands before, or casual laborers who tried to make ends meet, they now look upon themselves as individuals, entrepreneurs and respected village leaders with a purpose and a voice.
03/08/2008 02:44:30 PM · #9
Originally posted by frisca:

i felt compelled to bump this as I read in the paper this morning that women worldwide average 16.4% less income than men for the same work.

Women's issues aren't ever really a "hot topic" on dpc, but I figured I'd try anyway.

The very sad truth is that when attempting to discuss women's issues, a significant number of the men I spoke to stated that they truly felt that they were viewed at being akin to a pariah, and after being attacked and harangued, they tended to skirt the issue in its entirety.

That I feel is truly is a sad comment on society.


Message edited by author 2008-03-08 14:50:05.
03/08/2008 02:47:52 PM · #10
Excerpts from the 3rd story ...

In the meantime, we hear of a bomb blast on a civilian bus in Dambulla, about 120 kilometers away, killing more than 18 people on a pilgrimage and wounding 50. Our visit continues at the Badulla District Community Professionals Learning and Training Center (CPLTC) pictured below. There, I get the opportunity of speaking with 23-year-old Chamila Darshani who had piqued my curiosity the day before with her statement that “our village is our university”.

Chamila Darshani’s life would have been quite different today but for a genuine burning desire to be of service to her village. After her university entrance application was turned down, Chamila knew that the probable option open to her was to accept assembly line work at a garment factory until she married following which her fate would be determined by her role as a wife and mother. But she could not see how that would help her parents pay off their padi field mortgage nor how it would improve the general conditions in her village.

Chamila’s village, Pahalaellaweva, in Polonnarwa district, north of Badulla, is another hotspot of high poverty head count. It was where the Gemidiriya approach was conceived and piloted in 2003. Before the program launched, the village of almost 400 families relied solely on two wells for drinking water and irregular crop cultivation with no proper road access. Today, not only essential infrastructure build-out has been accomplished, the villagers have 24 hours of clean water supply and a continuous source for crop irrigation (not unlike the system pictured ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/42792/120/655687.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/42792/120/655687.jpg', '/') + 1) . '). The village also has a new community office building and an IT unit with two computers, basic internet connection, a camera and projector. And Chamila can be proud of the role she played in getting her village this far.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/42792/120/655688.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/40000-44999/42792/120/655688.jpg', '/') + 1) . 'Chamila is in fact, one of 600 Community Professionals or grassroots leaders who provide “community to community” development and support services, sharing their own experience from their own communities, training and transferring that knowledge to other communities to deploy. She is a trainer in Social Accountability and not only is she earning twice more than the average rural villager but she has spoken before the former President of Sri Lanka who personally commended her for her accomplishments.

“A girl from a rural village like me could never have thought it possible to be able to gain respect from village elders for her knowledge much less go to a foreign country to be a trainer,” she says, referring to her visit to Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in India. “Gemidiriya has given me so many opportunities to learn, be trained and to be exposed to the different aspects of social accountability and our own capability to improve our lot.”

When asked what she is most proud of, she answers without hesitation that her community is one of the best in savings and in issuing loans to those in need. Her village VSCO had received 1.9 million LKR (18,000 USD) in two installments in 2003 and 2004.

In the four years since, the Pahalaelleweva VSCO has provided nearly 9.6 million LKR (about 90,000 USD) in loans and earned a net profit of about 733,245 LKR (about 7,500 USD). This translates to a credit generation of over 500 percent and capital generation of 39 percent over the initial investment.

But she doesn’t stop there as she continues to talk animatedly, for Chamila is already thinking ahead. She explains that her village community needs to think about investing into new enterprising ventures such as dairy development and forming a producers’ company to own padi crops. And they also need to start gaining a better understanding of the benefits of ICT (information and communication technology). She says ICT will help them access information to avoid being exploited by the middle men who determine the prices of produce and also help market their produce directly to buyers. And for this to happen, she would first like to have English classes introduced for the villagers, followed by IT training. She herself is forking out as much as 10 percent of her modest monthly 10,000 LKR (about 93 USD) salary to learn English once a week from an independent tutor.

Listening to her, I wonder if she knows she’s launched a quiet revolution all by herself just by refusing to accept the way it has always been for young women like her in rural Sri Lanka, forging instead new paths into the unknown.

The next day as we make our way back on the road to Colombo, our eight hours of journey in the van is again mingled with security concerns as two more bombs go off in the capital’s zoo and main railway station. As we hope we get out safely, I couldn’t help but wonder how these women, in their simplicity and courage continue to endure and endeavor to live and hope. And I realize it’s no rocket science really. For the first time in their lives, they are trusted and empowered to drive their own development.

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